A few days ago it was first reported that Comcast was planning to expand its data caps into more regions. In some regions, Comcast caps data usage at 300 GB per month. Users who go over the limit will have 50 GB blocks automatically added to their plan for $10 each. In some of those regions, Comcast is also trialing an unlimited plan which allows users to pay an additional $30 or $35, depending on the region, in order to avoid the data caps. In the effected regions, Comcast customers have already received emails informing them of the upcoming changes, and telling them not to worry because the median data usage is 40 GB a month, well below the 300 GB limit. All other areas officially have a 250 GB cap, which is not actually enforced, so there is effectively no cap.
After those initial reports went out, internal Comcast documents were leaked on 4chan’s /b/ board, although the thread has been taken down. The documents have been reuploaded to imgur, by a redditor who downloaded them before the thread was taken down. The documents have already been taken down by DMCA claims once, and reuploaded, so its uncertain if they will remain up for long. For now, all six pages can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
The documents confirm what was already known about the expansion of data caps to more regions, and provides a nice handy list of which regions are effected, or will be effected by December of this year. Also of note, the document states that the regions which have an unenforced 250 GB cap are only temporary while the results of the trial regions are being evaluated. This suggests that eventually caps might enforced on all Comcast customers.
The documents also guide support staff on what to tell customers who call in. It tells them not to say “data cap” but instead to say “data usage plan” to make it more palatable. It warns them not to tell customers that users in non-trial areas have unlimited usage(which they effectively do) but to emphasize that there is a 250 GB limit which is just currently unenforced. When asked by customers about the reason for the caps, support staff are given the following guidance:
• Do say: “Fairness and providing a more flexible policy to our customers.”
• Don’t say: “The program is about congestion management.” (It is not.)
Although several regions are already have data caps, the expansion of data caps will affect Little Rock, Arkansas; Houma, LaPlace and Shreveport, Louisiana; Chattanooga, Greenville, and Johnson City/Gray, Tennessee; and Galax, Virginia starting December 1. The unlimited plan to bypass the cap for an additional fee is available in Florida and Georgia areas which currently have caps, but will expand to the entire big south region in December.
Is Comcast abusing its dominant position to jack up prices, or are these data caps really about fairness as Comcast claims? Leave your comments below.